To Die in June by Alan Parks

Fifth in a series of Tartan Noir mysteries, the estimable Harry McCoy once again walks a fine line between law and order and the forces of crime. A flawed but lovable character, his exploits will surely entertain.

To Die in June by Alan Parks
Europa Editions
Paperback | $18
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If you haven’t been introduced to Tartan Noir, here’s your chance. Lovers of murder mysteries will certainly love this series, but it’s a great read for anyone who likes flawed but loveable protagonists who need to navigate perilous waters. Harry McCoy is a Detective Inspector on the Glasgow force, assigned as a “mole” to the Possil Street station to root out suspected corruption. Set in 1975 in a decaying city with a compromised law enforcement establishment this is surprisingly humorous, in a dark way.


Harry has a reputation. He knows most of the down-and-outs, where they live, what they do and how they die. His father is among them, a man discarded and abandoned by society slowly killing himself with alcohol. When more of the lost men start passing untimely with the same symptoms in similar situations, though, Harry suspects someone with an agenda is responsible for killing them. The rest of the force is not much impressed when notorious alkies begin to be found in waste lots with signs of drink everywhere. It’s to be expected, they say. Not so, thinks Harry.


Along with his stolid sidekick Detective Watson (Wattie) they dive into the world of the indigent denizens of this gray city and find connections to underworld barons, some of whom are Harry’s childhood friends. A cast of characters including some clearly unhinged folk and a few dark horses enlivens the narrative.


A fine sense of wordplay and the Scots dialect furnishes a mild, dark comic aspect to what is a surprisingly pleasant read, given the grim background and action. Parks is a master of the genre and always provides a good story, This will be the fifth in the series and this reader recommends them all highly. As always, trust Europa to furnish quality literature.